Friday, September 3, 2004


Andrea Butler-Donato

This is it. I am about to become the mother of two children. Here I am, 39 weeks pregnant with my second kid. How much is my world, along with my son Patrick’s world, going to turn upside down? How did this happen?

This pregnancy, much like the first, was not planned. Due to the mysterious disappearance of my IUD, that I discovered after I decided to go hunting for because I just “felt” pregnant, I found myself staring at a positive EPT stick in the bathroom of a local bagel shop near my work back in early September 2003. And, much like my first pregnancy, I wasn’t upset. I was just, well, surprised. I went home that evening and broke the news to my husband, who kind of stared at me, probably a lot like I stared at the EPT stick. He didn’t seem too upset either. Just, well, surprised. At the time we were living at my husband’s parents’ house in order to try to get out from under some of our debt and try to buy a house. Our little family of three was sharing a small bedroom, the vast majority of our stuff was in storage, and we were doing our best to keep our sanity while living with my in-laws, two dogs, and five cats. Adding a newborn to this mix was not really what was intended.

We broke the news to my in-laws by having Patrick announce “Guess what? I am gonna be a big brother!” as they came home from work one evening after I had an emergency ultrasound to see if the IUD was incognito up inside my uterus somewhere. It wasn’t, it had bailed out on its long-term mission of birth control sometime in the previous month, so my risk of miscarriage was not any higher than if I never had an IUD. So, we figured we would start telling everyone. My son was thrilled to holler this bit of news. Of course, he had no idea what this really meant and neither did we. My mother-in-law got teary-eyed and gave me a hug. My father-in-law started laughing about how he knew what we must have been doing when they had gone on vacation the month before. We shrugged and looked sheepish and then went to eat some dinner.

Fast forward to the spring, and we are now in our own apartment, ready for baby #2. The house buying situation fell through, and gratefully, my husband agreed with my increasingly desperate sentiment that we had to get our own place before the baby came. So, here we are. I am as ready as I will ever be. I stopped working at about 34 weeks and have frantically unpacked all our stuff and run around the apartment nesting. I have pulled out and washed old baby clothes and baby gear, thrown out my old What to Expect books, and have tried to get into Zen Buddha mama mode. The belly cast has been made, the hospital bag is packed, and the childcare arrangements have been made for Patrick. Now, I wait.

And with the waiting, comes the thinking.

Of course, I have been chewing the fat on my upcoming labor and delivery. First time: 22 ½ hours of miserable labor that was three weeks early, mental fogginess and physical unsteadiness from IV narcotics, no epidural, delivered while lying on my back, and ended up with two black eyes, blood red eyeballs and broken blood vessels in my face from pushing for over an hour. Pain. Lots of pain. Piss poor postpartum care from the hospital and undoubtedly felt like I had been run over by a train. Yeah, of course it was worth it. My son was healthy and I was in awe.

This time I will be at a different hospital, with different midwives. Though the previous group of midwives were really great, I chose another group based on rave reviews and their hospital privileges. I plan on a water birth this time and would like to think that my tolerance of the pain will be better with this option, which was not available in the previous hospital. I don’t want an epidural this time either, but I absolutely will refuse IV narcotics. I will get out of the water and take an epidural if I feel like I can’t manage the pain all on my own because that is how much I don’t want IV meds. I am trying to think positively, but realistically as well, to be prepared for the idea that the pain might (knock on wood) be worse this time. I have read empowering birthing books, practiced meditation and focused breathing, and sat around squatting on a yoga ball trying to get prepared. And I am obviously just plain ol’ hoping that this labor will be faster and easier since it is the second baby.

And after all that fun part is over, I have been thinking about how I might possibly manage the new routines that I am going to have to adjust to as the primary caregiver of two children. How I am going to manage to get out the door in the morning with two children in order to get my son to preschool without losing my patience or breaking down into tears. I have been thinking about some of my stumbling blocks I encountered after Patrick was born, and my plans of how to deal with or prevent those problems this time, specifically the hurdles I had with breastfeeding. I am thinking about my risk of postpartum depression being higher than normal since I have had plenty of struggles with depression while not being pregnant. Last time, I had been on anti-depressants throughout the pregnancy and postpartum period at the advice of my psychiatrist and my midwives. This time, I haven’t been on any pills except my prenatal vitamin.

I have been thinking of my son, who has been the only child for almost five years. How these last few days are the last of it just being the two of us. All my maternal love bestowed on just him. My chest gets tight thinking about him ever feeling like I might possibly love the baby more. Thankfully, he seems excited about the baby, about being a big brother. He kisses my belly, talks to it, and falls on the floor laughing when he gets to feel a big kick. He enthusiastically helped with doing the belly cast. I certainly hope that the ultrasound is right and that there really is another boy on the way since Patrick is expecting a brother that is to be named “Maxwell Grant” and has been going around saying as much. I have tried to prepare him as best as I can, in terms he can understand. I ordered two educational picture books for him that I know he will love, that the baby will give as a gift after he is born. I explained that the baby is pretty much going to sleep, breastfeed, poop and cry after he gets here and won’t be much of a playmate for quite awhile. And I did not get any children’s books about new siblings because I didn’t want to give Patrick the impression that he is supposed to be jealous or angry at having this new little person around. I like to think that I am in tune enough with my son that if he is feeling that way, or that he seems to be having a hard time with adjusting to the change, that I will address it supportively then.

All in all, I don’t know if these are the best plans or not, and if my thinking is way off, as I have never done this mother-of-two-kids thing before. But I keep coming back to the fact that I really had no idea what I was doing the first time in terms of becoming a mother either and so far, I think we are doing pretty well. I have always had the mentality that my son will probably teach me more than I could have ever expected about living life and love. Now, I am thinking, I will just have two to teach me.

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